Former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg participated in an education panel Monday, moderated by NBC News correspondent Ann Curry and introduced by second lady Dr. Jill Biden.
The session was one of 12 during NBC’s two-day Education Nation Summit held in Manhattan, which also featured a town hall meeting with teachers. The events were televised and featured online to highlight education in America, which the summit calls “one of the most pressing national issues of our time.”
“I am gratified to be a part of an Administration that recognizes the value of education and strives to support our students – even in challenging times,” Biden said at the event. “We know that an education is the first step in realizing the American dream.”
After introducing the panel, Biden stayed to listen to the panel discussion, Trachtenberg told The Hatchet Wednesday in a phone interview.
Trachtenberg’s panel included President of Bard College Leon Botstein, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, President of The Education Trust Kati Haycock, author Wes Moore and Eduardo Padron, the president of Miami Dade College.
Trachtenberg said the thrust of the conversation had to do with access to education and the need to provide access to people from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“The question was how to make sure all Americans had the ability to get the education they needed and wanted,” he said.
During the conference, Trachtenberg said he was proud of GW’s “pioneering relationship” with D.C. public schools, citing the partnership between GW and the School Without Walls, a program which seeks to introduce public school students to college-level courses.
While Trachtenberg said the conference was productive, one concern about such large conferences is that people may go home and feel they solved the issue, but he said more needs to be done.
“It’s important that we have meetings, but not fall under the illusion that we’ve accomplished something,” he said, adding that follow-through is needed from corporate, political and all sectors of society.
“This is an immense challenge and not going to go away easily,” he said.